The Slants The-Band-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-thumbnail

The Slants are coming to Tucson

Later this week, the University of Arizona College of Law hosts what has to be the best law-related but not so damned lawylerly event of the year when it welcomes The Slants, all-Asian American band—which is all up in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s business.

The event is on Thursday. It begins with a noon talk (room 164) about their current trademark case pending before the Supreme Court. And then, because law school needs a relief valve, they’ll perform a concert at 8 pm. Both events are free and open to the public.

OK, so what is all this about?

“The Slants are known as the first all-Asian American dance-rock band in the world. The band is well known in legal circles due to their battle with the United States Trademark Office with In Re Tam, which is now before the Supreme Court of the United States and known as Lee v. Tam.”

All-Asian American band The Slants

All-Asian American band The Slants

“The friction with the USPTO comes from the band’s name—a reference to their ethnicity—which is the subject of a protracted legal debate. After the band’s request to trademark its name was denied, they took the issue to court. In December 2015, a federal appeals court overturned a previous ruling that upheld the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s rejection of the band’s application by striking down part of a law that allowed the government to reject trademarks it deemed offensive or disparaging to others. The majority opinion stated, in part, that ‘[w]hatever our personal feelings about the mark at issue here, or other disparaging marks, the First Amendment forbids government regulators to deny registration because they find speech likely to offend others.’ The band’s frontman, Simon Tam, explained that while the First Amendment should protect the band’s right to use the name regardless of their reasons, they had chosen the name in order ‘to undercut slurs about Asian-Americans that band members heard in childhood, not to promote them.’”

But the USPTO takes its faux disparagement seriously, so now we await a SCOTUS opinion.

If you enjoy more detail that doesn’t come from a law review, here is a helpful article from Chief Justice John Robert’ favorite publication, Rolling Stone.

Meantime, I know you’re curious about the type of music they write and perform. I’ve listened and enjoyed it, but I leave it to the band and the crowdsourced genius at Wikipedia to describe their thang:

“The Slants describe themselves as ‘Chinatown Dance Rock’ and are often compared to electro rock bands such as The Faint or early 80’s synthpop groups such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, Duran Duran, The Cult, and Joy Division. Critics also compare The Slants with modern artists such as The Killers, VNV Nation, and Mindless Self-Indulgence.”

Gotta love me a little synthpop.

The Slants UA flier University of Arizona Law School

Whether you’re an electro-fan or not, the band is here.

You might enjoy this brief video tracking their trip to Washington DC for Supreme Court oral argument regarding their trademark registration. At 1:36, you’ll see the tiniest of concerts they staged on the SCOTUS steps.

And be sure to watch this trailer for The Band Who Must Not Be Named.

You can see more of their work on their own Youtube page.

If you go to the Tucson concert—(please go!)—would a photo or two kill you? Maybe a brief video? A signed T-shirt? Whatever.

The owl of the Superb Owl Night Run with co-organizers Tricia Schafer (left) and Johnny Lookabaugh (right).

The owl of the Superb Owl Night Run with co-organizers Tricia Schafer (left) and Johnny Lookabaugh (right).

You may recall how back in January I predicted a particular legal outcome. A recent contrary result demonstrates why writing rather than lawyer-predicting was a better career course-correction for me.

Back in January, I chuckled over an annual fundraising race called the Superb Owl. Hosted around the time of the Super Bowl, the organizers—and I—thought the charming diction would help the Owl fly beneath the radar of The Big Game’s organizers.

Owls aren't the only wise creature when it comes to avoiding trademark trouble. A lawyers group avoids Super Bowl with their Superb Owl 5K.

Superb? Yes? Super? That question is headed toward litigation.

No so fast.

As we see in last week’s story, the NFL has filed a trademark objection about the race, co-organized by attorney Tricia Schafer. The race is a 5K called the Superb Owl Shuffle. But the website is named www.superbowlshuffle.org. So you see the problem.

As the Superb Owl would probably say, Who who who would have guessed the NFL would be prickly about its trademarks? Who would have predicted that such a smile-inducing name would ruffle feathers?

Not this guy, clearly. Happy running.

cle snippets teaser logo. This teaser signifies a new and innovative way to combine magazine content with online learning.How enjoyable a snippet can be.

No need to be mysterious. I’m talking about CLE Snippets, those brief-ish video conversations I’ve been having with Arizona Attorney authors. (Read more about them here.)

Last month, I interviewed Ken Motolenich-Salas about his topic: the Washington Redskins trademark cancellations. (You can read his article here.) Fascinating and timely.

Just as fascinating and timely, though, was my dialogue with Anthony Tsontakis yesterday. Fascinating – OK. But timely? That seems surprising, considering Anthony’s topic: a battle over the 1912 judicial nomination of Judge Richard Sloan.

Indeed, our dialogue was timely. Anthony’s article and our conversation focused on how the nomination battle could lead a commentator to say, “No uglier fight was ever made against a man.” Our dialogue reveals just how little we’ve changed in a century. Not a bad lesson to learn in a bruising election season.

I’ll provide links to the videos with Ken and Anthony as soon as I have them.

Anthony Tsontakis (right) and I take a moment before videotaping our conversation about a 1912 nomination battle.

Anthony Tsontakis (right) and I take a moment before videotaping our conversation about a 1912 nomination battle.

Creative ideas and those who protect them are recognized on World Intellectual Property Day. Bring the popcorn. patent illustration

Creative ideas and those who protect them are recognized on World Intellectual Property Day. Bring the popcorn.

Time flies: It’s already World Intellectual Property Day.

I may be the last to know; you’ve probably been preparing for weeks for today’s celebration. But if you’re still unsure what all the hubbub is about, the Library of Congress has you covered. It has announced a program today in honor of all things IP:

“The U.S. Copyright Office will host a Copyright Matters program in connection with World Intellectual Property Day at 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23,in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, located on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street, SE, Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.”

“The theme of World Intellectual Property Day this year, as announced by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), is ‘Movies: A Global Passion.’ World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated around the globe annually to mark the date the convention establishing WIPO came into force.”

All the day’s details are here.

Movies are a global passion, and so I was pleased to see that, yes, they are planning to screen a film. This year, it will be an award-winning movie called Rhythm Thief, and its director Matthew Harrison will be a speaker.

Here is a trailer for the film.

The trailer is delightfully uninformative (that’s a compliment), which is another way of saying it draws you in without believing we need mundane plot points to be attracted to a visual artwork. (We don’t.) Plus, a critic compared it to the incomparable Breathless, so it must be pretty remarkable.

As I said in a previous year, enjoy your day recognizing IP. If you get a chance, kiss a patent lawyer. After all, any attorneys who use terms like “deceptively misdescriptive” and “Auslegeschrift” deserve one.

Here is a flier describing the event.

World Intellectual Property Day 2014

Getting some legal education over a great meal has always been a terrific combination. This Wednesday, lawyers and others will belly up to teppanyaki bars to hear about ethics, law and social media.

The lunchtime gathering is hosted by the Phoenix chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. (Follow them on Twitter here.)

I’ve enjoyed a good number of PRSA events in the past, and I appreciate the lawyer-filled panel they’ve created. The attorneys will sit at grill tables at Sapporo, where they will facilitate discussions among attendees—all while they are entertained and nourished by the creation of delicious food.

Here is more information about the event from the PRSA:

Have you wondered about the legal ramifications of posting news clips on your website or whether or not you need permission to re-use an image of a photographer you hired for an event? If so, do not miss our upcoming Ethics Luncheon.

Join us for an interactive discussion on copyright and social media law, and other common ethical dilemmas set around teppanyaki tables. The luncheon will feature small-table discussions with industry leaders while enjoying the entertainment of the teppanyaki chefs. Come hungry and prepared with your questions.

A social way to learn about social media law

This luncheon is also our annual membership meeting, so come hear the latest updates about our Chapter and meet this year’s board of director’s candidates.

The panel features the following professionals:

  • Matt Bycer, trademark and patent attorney at Bycer Law PLC and adjunct professor of intellectual property and economics for National Paralegal College.
  • Sean O’Hara, associate at Snell & Wilmer, focusing on intellectual property litigation and complex commercial disputes.
  • Lori Higuera, director in the Litigation Section at Fennemore Craig and a member of the Labor and Employment, School Law and Commercial Litigation practice groups.
  • Gregory Collins, attorney at Kercsmar & Feltus PLLC, focusing on trademark, copyright and patent infringement matters.

Register here.

When: Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 11:30 to 1 p.m. with discussions beginning at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Sapporo, 14344 North Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, Ariz. 85254, Thunderbird East Plaza (southwest side of Scottsdale Road & Acoma).

Phone: 480.607.1114

Cost: $45 all walk-ins

About the PRSA:

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the world’s most prominent organization dedicated to the professional development and advocacy of PR practitioners. The Phoenix chapter is among the largest and most respected chapters nationwide. Join us to gain access to career advancement opportunities, industry events, awards programs, accreditation and a variety of skill-building resources.

If your community is anything like mine, your morning may have been marked by the rush of speeding flower-delivery trucks. Each was laden down with bouquets of blossoms, all headed to lawyers and law firms focused on intellectual property.

Today, you see, is World Intellectual Property Day (I’m sure I didn’t need to remind you).

Tonight, the saloons and restaurants will be packed with IP attorneys, heady with the day’s festivities. Voices will be raised in passion amidst the war stories of obviousness, and copyright, and publication; they will not be estopped.

So if you get the opportunity today, hug a patent lawyer and thank him or her for their work.

Certainly, I jest, for WIPD is a real and significant occurrence. I take this stuff pretty seriously, so before you ask: Yes, I did pay the royalty fee to publish that great cartoon above!

Here—in a more serious format—is what the Library of Congress tells us about the annual event:

Copyright Office Celebrates World Intellectual Property Day 2012

April 26 marks World Intellectual Property Day, an international celebration of the visionary innovation and creative expression fostered by the intellectual property system. The U.S. Copyright Office joins the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), its Member States throughout the world, and our colleagues across the U.S. government in celebrating the significant contributions of authors and other creators to our global society.

We are fortunate to live in a culture that values the talent and dedication of writers, composers, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, artists, producers and other authors. As the Supreme Court has noted: “The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an ‘author’s’ creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good.” Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken, 422 U.S. 151, 156 (1975).

We also live in an age of great technological innovation. This not only affects the ways in which authors may disseminate creative works and consumers may enjoy them—it affects the very means by which works are created and knowledge is accessed. And it calls for a robust legal framework for the 21st century—a framework by which authors are respected, investments (both intellectual and financial) are encouraged, enforcement measures are responsive, and limitations and exceptions are meaningful.

For more information about copyright law, please visit our website at www.copyright.gov. To learn more about WIPO, visit www.wipo.int.